With looting going on a street over from my house and peaceful protests around the corner, I have become accustomed to the sounds of change. Every few minutes, the sound of sirens and helicopters vibrate through my walls — a constant reminder of the Black Lives Matter demonstrations outside.
Although I am constantly faced with the reminder of the protests going on around me, I remember that so many other white people are not. I also realize that as a white woman in a time like this, my voice should not be heard as loudly as those in the black community. So, I hand over the mic to Vivian, who has the right to respond to these questions and comments I have heard from other white people.
What have you been doing to help your community during this time?
I have personally been donating and signing petitions. I feel like it is not a black person's job to educate white people on what's going on because there are so many resources out there, but I have been answering every person that has reached out to me. I have been trying to amplify my voice and let it be heard on any platform that I can, especially towards bigotted comments and comments against the movement and what it stands for. So, alongside this, I have been advocating and speaking up — especially for those who can't.
As a black woman, what outcome do you want to see from these protests?
I don't want to have to worry about my dad, my brother, my uncles, or my cousins going out and not returning home one day. I don't want them frisked because they are black. I don't want them gunned down because they are black. I just want change. I know it will not be immediate. I don't want police officers to feel threatened by a black person. I don't want people to question why people are fighting racism and systems of oppression. I don't want to hear any more "buts..." There are no "buts" when talking about if someone has the right to live.
What is your stance on the public safety of these protests, considering we are in the middle of a pandemic?
Businesses are open again, and the social distancing is just a recommendation at this point. Bars are restaurants that are already open again with servers touching your food and touching your water. It is interesting to me to see how quickly our government was able to gather resources for violence, like weapons and face protections and armor for SWAT members and the police force so quickly but when we needed them for our front-line health care workers like cleaners, doctors, and nurses. They were wearing trash bags and improvising masks. The energy that was given to gather various plastic and metal products like rubber bullets for police to use during these protests was not given to healthcare workers on the front line during the outbreak.
"These protests led to riots and looting, our local businesses are hurting." What are your thoughts on this?
My first thought on this is that the police have been using unjust aggression, inciting violence within the protests that were otherwise peaceful.
Most of the businesses hurt were large billion-dollar chain businesses like Target, which can easily replace their products. They get shipments of new products every week.
I do not justify the looting, many people are looting for their own personal gain. They are living out their own riot fantasy, which I do not support, and using the protests as a way to fulfill these fantasies. Many white people are engaging in the looting as well, not amplifying black people's voices, but instead causing destruction, leading the blame to be placed back on the black community.
Do you think protesters that have been taunting and inciting police justifies the overly aggressive behaviors of police toward protesters?
The protestors are exercising their first amendment right to freedom of speech. As an officer, you cannot let someone saying "fuck you" get you mad. It would be more appropriate for police officers to verbally respond to protesters instead of causing damage to our physical bodies by pepper-spraying, macing, and shooting at us. That is the difference in those videos of the protestors taunting the police and the police actively physically hurting these people.
I understand their anger when protesters are yelling "fuck you" or "fuck 12" but this is the profession they chose, cops have had a poor reputation since the beginning of time, they know going into the protests that they will hear this language and see people throw up the finger to them. We are only seeing one side of this protest hurting people and it is not the protestors.
Cops are also looked at as heroes so when we see them throwing up white supremacist signs, it is very problematic. We can't expect people to be OK with that. We also cant accept people saying "well, I see both sides" because one side is verbally expressing themselves and the other is physically hurting the other.
Everyday protests are gaining more and more momentum, do you think the protests will come to an end?
These protestors are mainly asking for justice, we want accountability for racist police officers that have hurt and killed black people, firstly the police that murdered George Floyd. They also want it to be understood that black lives are not worth less than property, black lives should not have to be shielded by a white person for them to be valued. The protesters will stop when we see black people being treated equally, not being pushed downwards to the point of being expendable and just casualties.
I think protests just want others to wake up and realize that we have gone this far without this movement being so prominent because in a way black struggles benefit non-black people because of systematic oppressions that are placed on them. Do not forget that George Zimmerman was charged not guilty on all accounts, the protests will die down when there is a change in awareness, understanding, and accountability regarding the treatment of black people.
These protests seem to revolve around black men, do you fear for men AND women in your community?
Always. Although, with this movement, I feel as though black women are sometimes swept under the rug a lot. I fear for both black men and women.
What feelings have these protests invoked in yourself?
I am always hopeful because I know there are so many more good people in this world than bad and there are so many people that care about civil rights and black lives. It is a little overwhelming at times, I haven't seen anything fun on my phone in a while. I don't want this darkness to consume my reality, but I am also scared. Sometimes I find myself looking at people and asking myself if they would hurt me because of my color, but I don't like it when I catch myself profiling others because as a black woman I know what it is liked to be profiled every day of my life.
I have a lot of emotions, but I am inherently hopeful that we can make a change. There are so many people that are not black speaking up for us too and marching alongside us which invokes all kinds of emotions inside. If I were to pick three emotions that are consuming me at the moment it would be overwhelmed, hopeful, and scared.
What can white people do to help?
White people can educate themselves about the Black Lives Matter movement, learn about the history behind blacks in America, and about their own history just to see how we have acted in the past so that it is not repeated. They can donate to Black Lives Matter, black funds or organizations in their cities and neighborhoods. If they want to protest and stand by our sides they can definitely protest, I ask that they do this peacefully without violence or destruction of property. White people can also record any and everything that is going on at these protests. Finally, sign petitions, donate, and try your best to educate yourself.
Do you have anything else you want to address?
I am very hopeful about our generation and those generations beneath us. I pray that through this education people realize that Trump should not be in office and show up to vote. The Black Lives Matter is not a race war, even though the media may paint it as so.
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As a white person, I stand by Vivian's side as a member of the Black Lives Matter movement, and I support these protests.
Below are four things you can do to support the movement in less than 4 minutes.
2. Sign Petitions:
Text to Sign:
- Text "JUSTICE" to 668366
- Text "FLOYD" to 55156
- Text "ENOUGH" to 55156
3. Educate Yourself on Anti-Racism:
This article is dedicated to you Viv. Thank you for sharing your beautiful words.